Walker Ends Aquatics Program

I’m often surprised at the sort of topics that get conversation going here. Every so often something off-the-wall does it, particular K-12 topics. So–what the heck?–here’s a letter I received from a parent who is concerned about Walker eliminating their aquatics program.

Hello! My name is Melissa Bibb-Harris. I am a C-ville local born and raised. I have two children who attend C-ville schools, Greenbrier and Buford. I just heard that the aquatics department at Walker School has been dropped. I spoke with Mr. Bill Byers the head of that department who has confirmed he has opted for retirement since his aquatics program has been dropped.

I would like to know why the City School system has dropped the aquatics division from the P.E. program at Walker school? Was there a poll for parents? How do the school board and new Superintendent, Rosa Adkins, explain this decision? Do the American Red Cross water safety standard not fit into the SOL’s? With such a concern on childhood obesity in America how does swimming not benefit the students. What happens now? Do the P.E. classes double or triple in size since a third no longer rotate out for the swimming classes? How can we, a school system, afford to dismiss the advantages of an aquatics program when other school localities such as Fluvanna, Greene and Albemarle would KILL to have an aquatics division as part of their P.E. program?

The amazing thing is that they ever had an aquatics program in the first place. I had no idea.

5 Responses to “Walker Ends Aquatics Program”


  • I’m seriously pissed off about this. Killing this was one of the budget issues which was defeated specifically because parents objected — now they’ve figured out a way to do it anyway?

    Yes — every 5th grader in Charlottesville was taught how to swim: a fairly valuable life skill and a remarkably sane use of the pool that’s right there at Walker. Cutting this program saves about ten cents: adding the new cirriculum coordinator adds six figures to the school budget. Central Office is and has been seriously over staffed. Parents made themselves heard on this point and we’ve now been lied to about retaining the program? Seriously pissed.

  • Anyone who’s read my comments whenever the city school system has been a topic on this blog should already know that I (as a product of that same school system) have a very very low opinion of the city schools. So of course my comments will be shaded accordingly.

    …other school localities such as Fluvanna, Greene and Albemarle would KILL to have an aquatics division as part of their P.E. program?

    I haven’t been paying much attention to the other school systems. How do you know they would “kill” to have an aquatics program?

    Killing this was one of the budget issues which was defeated specifically because parents objected — now they’ve figured out a way to do it anyway? […] Parents made themselves heard on this point and we’ve now been lied to about retaining the program?

    Are people really surprised about this?? Hasn’t this been the standard method of operation of the City government and school systems? They basically decide what they want to do about any given issue, listen to negative public opinion against taking the action they are proposing, and then when they think no one’s looking (and usually they aren’t looking) they turn around and do it anyway.

    If people are surprised about it, well thats surprising to me.

    Well anyway now we get to chalk one more up to the bureaucrats that constitute the city schools.

  • A few of us asked for this cut to be restored, but the request was never even acknowledged by the School Board.

    I was surprised that our City Councilors didn’t see the Board’s decision to cut the swim instruction program at Walker reversed, given that CC controls the school budget and given the number of children who swim all summer at the city’s pools. (A big new liability with all the forthcoming non-swimmers, no?)

    Mr. Byers is a tremendous role model and (according to my daughter) a very nice man. Losing him to budget cuts at the same time that the School Board’s draft strategic plan calls for an increase in the number of African American educators makes no sense.

    We can only hope that Mrs. Atkins will ask the Board to reverse this bad decision.

  • 29 interviewed Jim Henderson yesterday. Here’s a link to the story: http://www.nbc29.com/absolutenm/anmviewer.asp?a=4112&z=6

  • So I just heard that Mr. Bill Byers was retired not at his request. He also ran Washington Park pool and had complained about sewage draining into the pool. He ended up with two demerits of some sort on his record, as punishment for speaking out. It all sounds very strange, but apparently a conversation with Mr. Byers could be very interesting.

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